When a condenser tube leak is experienced, the pure condensate becomes contaminated and performance can plummet while trying to locate the source of condenser leakage. This is where American Efficiency Services comes in with our condenser tube services – helium leak detection. AES uses advanced helium leak detection technology to quickly locate condenser tube leaks. Our experienced leak detection teams work efficiently to eliminate condensate contamination and improve performance to get your plant operating at full power.
Continue reading to learn more about our condenser tube leak detection process. AES would enjoy hearing from you as well! Give us a call or fill out our online Estimate Request Form for condenser tube inspection and our team will be in touch soon. AES’s condenser services are the best at identifying tube leaks.
Condenser tube inspections are conducted with the unit online with the leaking condenser tube bundle isolated and drained for occupancy. When the hotwell condensate is contaminated due to cooling water intrusion from a condenser tube failure, it is imperative the source of the leakage is identified immediately. Condenser cooling water contains much greater concentrations of dissolved materials than boiler condensate meaning even small condenser tube leaks can cause gross contamination of the steam-generating system.
Once the tube bundle is isolated from service, what was a water leak has, essentially, been turned into a condenser air leak. Using various-sized plenums and a systematic approach, helium is applied to the condenser tube bundle checking every tube, tube-to-tube sheet joint, and plug.
Why helium as a tracer gas? When combined with the experience of our expert Leak Detection Services Teams, helium, due to its minute molecular size, is the most efficient and cost-effective tracer gas to precisely locate condenser tube leaks. Only the leaking tubes are plugged.
When helium is applied to a leaking area, the helium will be drawn into the steam space through the leak. The helium entering the steam space is removed by the condenser’s air removal system. The helium mass spectrometer used by AES’ skilled tube leak technicians is located at the discharge of the air removal system. As the helium is ejected from the system, the helium mass spectrometer will register an indication. The leaking area is narrowed down with the use of a series of smaller plenums until a single condenser tube, tube-to-tube sheet joint, and/or plug that are leaking and contributing to the contamination is identified.
The leak(s) is recorded and at the completion of the inspection, all leaking tubes are plugged and a re-inspection conducted to ensure all plugs have been sealed properly.
AES crews are dedicated to safety, quality job performance, and responsible for obtaining and compiling comprehensive documentation to be turned over at job completion. Our reporting system is designed to transfer photographs, tube bundle diagrams marked to identify the exact location of the plugged tube(s), and unit data to our customers at the conclusion of the testing, providing accurate real-time, relevant information of the conditions encountered.
American Efficiency Services is the premier tube service company.
Plastic, dimple plugs, shaving cream, ultrasonics, and smoke have all been used in the past to identify condenser tube leaks. While these methods have proved successful in identifying very large leaks, they are extremely time-consuming and unreliable when trying to locate small leaks. As a result, non-leaking condenser tubes are plugged in a desperate effort to return a “leak free” unit to service. Even though condensers are designed to operate, on average, with ten percent of the tubes plugged, plugging additional tubes that may not be leaking prematurely reduces the efficiency of your condenser or heat exchanger.
Condenser tube cleaning is only one spoke of a quality condenser health plan. AES condenser descaling can keep your condenser efficient but we provide the condenser services for the life of your condenser. Those services include condenser leak detection services to identify your condenser tube leaks, condenser eddy current so you can understand the health of your condenser tubes, condenser repair (tube plugging) for when a tube fails, and condenser retubing for when the current condenser tubes have lived their complete useful life.
Condenser tube inspections are conducted with the unit on-line. When an operating condenser unit experiences contamination of the hotwell condensate due to cooling water intrusion from a condenser tube failure, it is imperative the source of the leakage is identified immediately. Any cooling water contains much greater concentrations of dissolved materials than boiler condensate, so even small leaks can cause gross contamination of a steam generating system.
American Efficiency Services’ technique and experience can identify most failures within one operating shift of gaining access to the suspected water box. This includes the identification, plugging, and retesting of the tube bundle.
Identifying condenser tube leak utilizing helium as a tracer gas, coupled with inspection experience, has proven to be the most cost-effective method to date.
Plastic, dimple plugs, shaving cream, and smoke have all been used in the past to identify condenser leakage. These methods have proved successful in identifying very large leaks, but are not always successful for the identification of all leaks. They can also be time-consuming; in the past, several shifts/days have been consumed identifying condenser tube leak. AES has seen several situations where numerous tubes were plugged in a specific area in a desperate attempt to return the unit to service “leak free”. Plugging additional tubes reduces the efficiency of the condenser prematurely. Even though the condenser is designed to withstand a certain percentage of plugged tubes, the life expectancy of the condenser will be reduced over time.
Using helium as a tracer gas is precise and quick so only the tube(s) leaking are plugged and the condenser is back doing its job, operating efficiently and making the utility money.
Once a tube bundle is isolated from service, an air leak has now been created instead of a water leak. Helium is applied to the tube bundle in a systematic process using a large plenum so each tube will have helium applied to it. If helium is applied to a leaking tube, the helium will enter the steam space through the leak. While helium in the steam space is removed by the unit’s air removal system, AES’s inspector will be located at the discharge of the air removal system with a mass spectrometer sensitive to helium. As the helium is ejected from the system, the mass spectrometer will register an indication. The leaking area is narrowed down with the use of smaller plenums until single tubes can be inspected to determine the exact tube(s) contributing to the contamination. The leak will be recorded and at the completion of the inspection, all leaks will be plugged, and a re-inspection will be conducted to ensure all plugs have been sealed properly. Tube sheet diagrams will be marked to identify the exact tube(s) and a final report including photographs will be submitted at the conclusion of the inspection.
AES’ guarantee that we will find and fix the Condenser Leakage quickly, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.